Drawing attention to stillness, silence, and spaciousness shifts your focus from feeding the insecurity of the ego to connecting with pure being. Anytime you identify with a sense of “I” – “I feel something;” “I have lost something;” “I am lost” – you are indentifying with the wrong person. You are identifying with the ego, with your pain body, not with your true nature. – Tenzin Wangyal
Dear Napa Valley Insight Meditation Community,
This Tuesday evening, August 4, from 7:00 – 8:30, I would like to invite us to spend some time doing not much of anything at all. Or, at least, having our minds doing not much of anything at all. During last week’s wonderful visit with Dr. Margarita Loinaz, I was particularly taken with her emphasis on the non-conceptual, of leaning into the space between thought. This can be a challenging and, at first, often non-intuitive task. But it is possible, even for those of us who are new to mindfulness.
Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, a pediatrician, meditation teacher, and the abbess of the Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon, writes: “To rest the mind in complete stillness, in pure awareness, is to return to its original nature, its natural state.” And to aid us in this endeavor, she has created an exercise called “Just Three Breaths.” Chozen Bays suggests that for as many times a day as we are able, we give our minds a short rest. And, for the duration of three breaths, we ask our inner voices to be silent. “It’s like turning off the radio or TV for a few minutes. Then you open all of your senses and just be aware – of color, sound, touch, and smell.”
For those of us who are just beginning a meditation practice, or for those who have been practicing for years, this is a wonderful and intimate exercise in experiencing the present moment in the flow of daily life. Chozen Bays suggests posting notes with the number 3 in your environment as a means of support. Or setting an alarm and/or cell phone to ring at irregular intervals throughout the day. Or both! So that when you see the “3,” or hear the alarm, you simply stop what you are doing, press the pause button on your mind, and take three restful breaths…
For those who find this exercise intriguing, I invite you to check out Dr. Chozen Bays’ book, How To Train A Wild Elephant. It’s full of 53 daily life mindfulness practices that you can implement, one a week, throughout your year.
On another note: on Tuesday, August 11, NVIM is excited to welcome back Nina Wise! Nina is a gifted theater artist, writer and dharma teacher and was enthusiastically received by our community when she visited us last April. The author of A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life: Self-Expression and Spiritual Practice for Those Who Have Time for Neither, Nina has received several Bay Area Critics’ Circle Awards as well as multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. As author Isabel Allende writes, “Nina is an empowering, joyful, and celebratory guide to a fuller life.”
Hopefully, you’ll be able to join us for this special evening with Nina.
Take care, thank you for your practice, and I look forward to seeing you soon~
Napa Valley Insight Meditation
On-Going NVIM Event & Information:
Thursday Morning Silent Meditation: For those interested in supporting their daily practice, we invite you to join NVIM on Thursday mornings for silent meditation. This 30-minute meditation will begin promptly at 9:00am and is a wonderful opportunity to nurture your practice in an intimate and supportive setting.
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